What the?!?!
OK, if this is your first visit to Toonbots, I want to level with you. You're going to have to read or at least skim the archives if you care to know what's going on. Toonbots is generated from XML specifications by Perl code called the Toon-o-Matic. To me, the Toon-o-Matic itself is the work of art. The strip is a by-product. Like hot dogs.

There are, however, a few conventions I've been using, just so newbies aren't entirely lost:

  • Captions in orange are me. I'm the metacartoonist.
  • The blurb below the toon is ... sort of me, but speaking of me in the third person. Two of these blurbs have me fighting with my blurb alter-ego, so they're not entirely me. Or something.
  • There is no particular fourth wall in Toonbots.
  • The floating heads of dead Communists are just ... something that kind of happened. They grow on you after a while.
  • The floating head of William Shakespeare is a very angry character. I don't know why.
  • The Bot and the Dot were the originally planned characters. The Bot is never coherent, so don't look for hidden meanings. There are none. Mostly. (Except for that "Bacon" crack back in December of 2001.)
  • Most captions are dialog. This is because the Toon-o-Matic can't draw speech balloons yet. Different characters often use distinct colors and/or fonts.
  • Sometimes, when characters talk in hieroglyphics, you can see what they're saying by following the link that says, "Today's toon with source code." And then again, sometimes it won't help.
  • Wolverines! What is it with wolverines? The wolverines belong to the Jihad. They always bring their own, just in case.
  • Jihad? Toonbots doesn't have a fan following: it has the PAFTWJ (People's Armed Front of Toonbots Worshippers Jihad).
  • The Jihad hangs out at the forum.
  • I've coined the term "fifth-wall humor" to denote the blurring between fan activity and cartoon.
  • If, after all this, you still read an episode and end up saying "What the heck is he talking about," but thinking that if you thought about it, it might start to make sense, but, wait, maybe not -- if, as I say, this is the case, then rest assured that you have precisely managed to experience the essence of Toonbots. And if you like it, well -- you're Cool Enough.

All this makes things difficult to understand, it's true. But unlike those sell-out regular cartoonists, you can be assured that I do Toonbots because I enjoy doing it. There are no plans whatsoever to build a cartooning empire upon the Toonbots strip, because -- frankly -- most people just aren't cool enough.

Maybe you find this whole idea stupid. Fine. Who needs you Luddites anyway? But the rest of us here are cool and savvy individuals, and if you get it, you're enthralled by the possibilities of the amazing Toon-o-Matic. Hey, so am I! Stay tuned as Toonbots goes where no truly sane person would ever have thought to go.

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